For the longest time, I was against going to mental health therapy. This original hatred probably had a lot to do with the fact that my parents, teachers, and doctors recognized that I needed to go when I was about 9 or 10 years old. I, of course, had no say in this decision because I needed help and I was a kid — a very stubborn kid. So even though I was fortunate enough to see a skilled child psychologist who, knowing what I know now, offered me plenty of skills that could have been incredibly useful for me, I pushed back, rejected, and resented everything I learned at my appointments.
As I got older, I was always afraid of people I knew seeing me in the waiting room. I was worried about the stigma that comes with going to therapy. And in middle school and high school (and even at my college clinic), these were very valid fears. So I would get super anxious in the waiting room and not want to get help once I got back to my therapist. I simply went because it was a condition of my medication prescription.
Once I started college and ran into some issues with my mental health, I started seeing a therapist by choice.
I started recognizing when I need to seek help for my symptoms beyond medication — I started to see that I needed coping skills too. I had friends that were mental health positive and family that was encouraging me to go and take care of myself. Even though I was still reluctant, I started going on my own accord and that's when things began to change for me.
Now, my life didn't suddenly become perfect and I didn't suddenly stop having symptoms when I started going to therapy by choice. However, I was more receptive to what the therapists were telling me and have therefore been able to actually make the changes I needed to make in order to feel better. I also learned that just because someone is a therapist doesn't mean they are the right therapist for me. I saw two therapists regularly before I found one that I actually clicked with (third time's the charm, am I right). I've learned it's so important to have the right vibe with who you're seeing so they understand you better and you become more willing to listen to their suggestions.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month, so I wanted to take this time to share some of my own mental health story. I am finally at a point where I feel no shame about going to therapy. In fact, it's one of my favorite parts of my week. To the skeptical reader, I hope someday you can get there too.